Tuesday, 27 September 2016

MATCH FIXERS COULD HAVE POCKETED $500K

Former Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) bosses accused of attempting to bribe the national soccer team in a match-fixing scandal could have pocketed approximately $500 000, if the deal had not been botched, a court heard yesterday.

Ex-Zifa chief executive Hanrietta Rushwaya, 49, and former board members Edzai Kasinauyo and Nation Dube are denying the bribery charges.

They were represented by Simon Mupindu, Harrison Nkomo and Simon Simango 
respectively when they appeared before Harare regional magistrate Lucy Mungwaru.
During trial, suspended Zifa technical director Maxwell Takaendesa Jongwe —who sold out information about the scandal – testified saying he was shocked after knowing about the amounts of money Rushwaya and her accomplices would get and he took the matter to the office of President Robert Mugabe.

“In one of the meetings held at Zifa in February, as part of preparations for the game against Swaziland, I saw messages that were sent to Kalisto Pasuwa (national team coach) by one Leeroy Waguta suggesting a plot to fix the matches between Zimbabwe and Swaziland,” Takaendesa Jongwe said.

“I advised (then) chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze and Zifa vice president Omega Sibanda but they did not take any action and that was when I took the matter to principal director at State House, Innocent Tizora,” he said.

“The amounts involved convinced me that it would be a threat to national security. The targeted players were meant to receive $15 000 each and the accused persons $40 000 each for every game played. I calculated the amounts for all games and the figures added up to about $500 000,” Takaendesa Jongwe said.

Prosecutor Timothy Makoni asked Takaendesa Jongwe to point out the core perpetrator of the alleged bribery to which he replied: “…from the messages it was an Asian guy who linked with Rushwaya then Waguta who was in South Africa”.

Rushwaya’s lawyer challenged Takaendesa Jongwe to produce the alleged messages as evidence in court but he failed to do so claiming he had only managed to read the information from Pasuwa’s phone.

Mupindu argued that the said messages could have been manipulated and cannot be based on as reliable evidence by the court.

He said Takaendesa Jongwe was bitter that his suspension came as a result of his conduct in reporting the match fixing issue that he would want to see the accused persons suffer.
“My emotion is against my employer and not the accused persons. For your own information I am close to two of the accused persons,” responded Takaendesa-Jongwe.

Kasinauyo’s lawyer, Nkomo, said Takaendesa Jongwe was not a composed person for taking football issues to Mugabe.

He claimed that Takaendesa Jongwe had made a misinformed conclusion when he reported the matter since the alleged matches were won and never fixed.

Allegations against the trio arose between January and February this year when Rushwaya allegedly connived with Kasinauyo, Ian Gorowa, and Dube to engage in match fixing targeting the South African Premier League.

Rushwaya and her team, together with Waguta, who turned out to be the whistle-blower, were acting in connivance with Chan Sankaran — a popular Asian match-fixer.
Sankaran was also the financier.

In February, the accused persons agreed to fix the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers between Swaziland and Zimbabwe scheduled for March 25 and 28 in Mbabane and Harare respectively.

They then agreed to offer bribes to the Zimbabwe national football team players for them to lose the game.

The court heard that they agreed to implement their plan after the announcement of the list of players who were going to play against Swaziland.

Kasinauyo was allegedly tasked to put pressure on Pasuwa to prematurely announce the list of players.

The plot did not materialise because Pasuwa delayed announcing the list before the matter ended up being known by Zifa president Philip Chiyangwa and a police report was made. Daily news

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